Perdue on playing Shaq, NBA Finals

Marc Ketecher (foreground) and former NBA center Will Perdue at the NBA Finals.

While watching two veteran NBA greats vie to win a first championship — LeBron James (eight pro seasons) and Dirk Nowitzki (13) — ESPN Radio’s Will Perdue thinks about how lucky he is.

“I didn’t realize how fortunate I was,” Perdue says of helping the Bulls win their first NBA Championship in just his third year in the league (1990-91).

“How special it was — how many All-Stars never win one, and how difficult it was. You have to collect your four-leaf clovers, have all the moons line up, and have some luck to actually win a championship. Today, there’s even more pressure, with all the blogs and the Internet and all the international coverage — players are under such a microscope.”

Perdue, who won three straight titles with the Chicago Bulls, and another with San Antonio, is among those scoping out The NBA Finals as ESPN Radio’s on-site studio analyst.

He and ESPN Radio studio host Marc Ketecher will be at American Airlines Center for Game 4 of the NBA Finals (9 p.m. ET, ABC, ESPN Radio). James’ Heat leads Nowitzki’s Mavericks in the series, 2-1.

“This is our sixth Finals together, and I really enjoy Will’s unique perspective as not only a former NBA player, but as a four-time champion,” Ketecher said.

“At any point in the game, he can always take us in the huddle and give our listeners a good sense of what those players are going through.”

Perdue provides pre-game, post-game and halftime analysis, contributes to podcasts, and guests on talk shows starting with AllNight with Jason Smith after games.

That’s a workout that seems almost as tough as guarding Shaquille O’Neal, which Perdue did many times in his 13-year NBA career.

Last week, O’Neal officially ended his 19-year career by announcing his retirement.

“He’s such a (pause for effect) large man,” the 7-foot Perdue, who played at 240 pounds, says of O’Neal (who was listed at 7-1, 325).

“When people would ask what it was like to play against him, I’d try to be as realistic as possible and tell them to go out and try to push their car around the block, that’s what it was like playing against Shaq.”

While O’Neal was immoveable in the paint, Dallas Mavericks star Nowitzki seems unstoppable from the perimeter to Perdue.

“When Dirk came into the league, with his size, and didn’t go in the post, that was unheard of, that’s not how you were supposed to do it,” Perdue says.

“What is he? He’s not a power forward, he’s not a small forward. He’s a player. He’s a jack of all trades and master of a lot of them.”

Who does Perdue think will take another step toward winning his first title, Nowitzki or James?

“I can tell you who’ll win the series, but I can’t tell you who’ll win Game 4,” Perdue says.

“Miami wins the series, but even beating the Bulls four straight, you couldn’t say they were dominant. They just do what it takes to win. Dallas has been there in all the games, but Dirk needs help.”

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